By Charles Wages
“Therefore we were comforted in your comfort; yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.” (2 Cor. 7:13)
Those who love the Lord and love His children should realize that all ministry, that is true to the Word, is important. However, there has always been a tendency to limit the work of the Lord to preaching and teaching. No doubt that preaching (heralding the good news of salvation) and teaching (edifying or establishing the saints) is of utmost importance, but there is more.
There are so many discouraging things in this life, a ministry that is so needed is
In our text, the great benefits derived from “comfort” are clearly shown. Paul wrote this verse to the believers as they had gone through a great problem and he was joyed that they had been comforted by the Scriptures. The word “comfort” is similar to a description given to the Holy Spirit, that is “one called alongside to help.” God is our Comforter. However, He delights in using Spirit-filled believers to bring encouragement and hope to the discouraged and hopeless.
Comfort and encouragement have a tendency to go both ways. Paul not only noted the comfort that had come to the Corinthians, but said that he had been “comforted in your comfort.”
Encouragement is akin to kindness. It is interesting to see that the world observes a “Be Kind to Animals Week,” but forgets to be kind to human beings. A little boy was quick to respond when asked to give an example of his being kind to an animal. He said excitedly, “I kicked a boy for kicking his dog!”
“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32)
The Bible teaches us that the world is in darkness. It also teaches that we all were at one time in darkness as to God’s plan of redemption and His purpose for our lives (Eph. 5:8, Col. 1:13). In view of this there is a great need for the ministry of
Enlightenment is a far greater ministry than just listening to someone sing, “You are the Light of My Life.” Paul, under inspiration, prayed for the saints of God,
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Eph. 1:18)
The rest of this great truth in Ephesians 1:15-23 should be read and studied carefully in order to be enlightened as to our real position in Christ and that He is “the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” It is one thing to know about Him, and quite another thing to know Him in His fullness.
It is tragic how many people who have been saved by God’s grace are not really prepared to serve the Lord. Life has often been described as a journey. There are classes to teach us how to pack our clothes for a trip. Much attention is given to preparing ourselves for any excursion such as, having enough funds, clothes, food (if it is a camping trip), and even “shots” (if it is an overseas trip). Some first grade children went on a field trip. They noticed that the birds seemed excited as they chirped in the trees and bushes. The little children conjectured as to what the birds were saying. One of the little girls had the answer, “The mother birds are telling their children they had better go to the bathroom before they start the trip.” Well, at least some know that preparation is needed for a trip in this life. How much more is needed to live, love, and learn about our service for Him! Enlightenment is a needed ministry, but must be more than giving of information, it must be sharing by word and deed (1 John 3:18).
An arm that is put in a sling and never used will atrophy. That is, it will shrivel up and waste away because of inactivity. All saints need to be active and useful for the Lord in scriptural and meaningful endeavors. This takes
Those who want to participate in the Lord’s work need to experience the joys and sorrows of other people. We never know how to sympathize with a person who has a toothache until we have had a toothache. It is amazing how often we are ignorant of the needs of others. A wealthy little girl wrote an essay on “The Poor.” She started off by saying, “Once upon a time there was a poor family. The mother was poor, the daddy was poor, the children were poor, the chauffeur was poor, the maid was poor, the cook was poor, the gardener was poor, they were all poor!”
In Ephesians 4:12, there are three things enumerated in which we all could be involved in doing or helping,
- Perfecting the saints
- Work of the ministry
- Edifying of the body of Christ.
Of course, these things are vast and all encompassing, but they do show us we need to be involved. There is plenty of work for every child of God to exercise his or her talents and time. However, none of us will ever really believe it until we become a part of this great ministry!
Yes, we can all encourage, enlighten, and be involved in helping others along the way as we faithfully serve our wonderful Lord. Ponder on these points and remember,
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58)